More on Amazon deforestation at mongabay.com.
Johan Eliasch, Swedish multi-millionaire, UK Conservative party donor and deputy treasurer and recent environmental philanthropist, is in hot water over his 2005 purchase of 625 square miles of Amazonian rainforest. He bought it for £13.7m from an American-owned timber company with the aim of protecting it from loggers. His first act was to close down the lumber mill in the town of Itacoatiara, with the loss of 1000 local jobs.
Obviously this hasn’t gone down well with the locals and Eliasch has now been accused of ‘green colonialism’. Mr Eliasch does not appologise for putting these people out of work but, says he did compensate them and is hoping to employ some of them as wardens. Local business and shops have suffered the knock on effects of the mills closure as well.
Plainly, it is not acceptable to affect peoples lives this way. Poverty does not help to save environments and the desperation of these families is not something Mr Eliasch can turn his back on. Of course buying up a sizable chunk of the rainforest to protect it is a laudable idea but, dumping the locals into poverty is short sighted and simply daft.
If Mr Eliasch doesn’t have the inclination and time to invest in alternative job creation (eg. eco-tourism; forest crops) then he can certainly afford to hire consultants (preferably Brazilian) to look into alternative economic options for the local peoples. If he doesn’t, Mr Miliband’s (UK Environment Secretary) idea to set up an international trust to help with the preservation of the Amazon with never see the light of day.